CHICAGO
01/07/2013 05:09 pm ET

Chicago Church Money Giveaway: Park Community Church Hands Members Cash For Good Deeds

Cash normally goes from congregants' wallets and into the church coffers via the offering plate at most worship services, but one Chicago church did things in reverse Sunday.

At Park Community Church's 11 a.m. service on the Near North Side, ushers doled out envelopes filled varying amounts of cash with church members instructed to put the nearly $12,000 to work in what the Tribune called "the corners of the community where they think it will do the most good."

Most of the envelopes had a few dollars inside, while others had more than $100, according to Fox Chicago.

The money came from the church's general fund, according to the Tribune—and it's not necessarily robust: the attendance and finance update in the church's Christmas Eve program shows more than $5.75 million is still owed on the mortgage.

The church is calling the effort an "investment," saying via Facebook, "We live in this city as citizens, not as tourists. We want to engage with the issues in this city."

The church's website offered a broader explanation of how it sees members putting the money to good use, writing:

A high value for us at Park is investing in our city or in the world around us in a holistic way. This includes investing our time, talent, and treasures for the glory of God. If you were with us this past weekend you received a monetary gift where we asked you to invest in our city in some way. You can feed the homeless, help someone in need, or just get creative and pool it together for a larger cause!

During the service Rev. Jackson Crum showed the congregation a map of recent homicides in the nearby area, according to the Tribune, and instructed the church members to apply their efforts there.

Chicago's homicide rate surpassed 500 by the end of 2012 and has already edged past 10 in the first week of the new year.

Many congregants told the Tribune they weren't sure how to use the money, though congregant James Adams, who had $12 in his envelope told the paper, "I'm going to pray about it. I just want God to give me the perfect opportunity to talk about why I'm giving it to whomever I'm giving it to. I want it to count."

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